"Drunk Tank" Gives Way to Kinder "Sobering Station" In San Mateo

A DUI could lead to a comfortable bed and coffee with First Chance

By Chris Roberts
|  Monday, Oct 21, 2013  |  Updated 4:38 PM PDT
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San Mateo "Drunk Tank" Gives Way to "Sobering Station"

First offenders for a DUI have a shot at an easygoing drunk tank with real beds and coffee in San Mateo.

Comfortable beds, coffee and snacks are at the end of a DUI in San Mateo -- and being called a "client" rather than an "inmate."

First-time offenders for drunk driving or other inebriated offenses get a different kind of "drunk tank" in San Mateo County -- it's no drunk tank at County Jail at all, according to the San Francisco Examiner.

First Chance is a "sobering station" in Burlingame, where police can drop off arrestees -- who get counselors rather than sheriff's deputies overseeing their next move, the newspaper reported.

The next move could involve a voucher for a bus or a cab ride home as well as services.

The "kinder, gentler" approach appears to be paying off: "clients" are "more likely" to accept help for substance abuse issues than inductees into the drunk tank, the newspaper reported.

The sobering station, run by StarVista, costs local cops about $400 per booking -- but does reduce recidivism, according to Daly City Vice Mayor David Canepa.
 

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